61°F
weather icon Clear

Explore the ghost town of Grafton, Utah, outside of Zion National Park

The ghost town of Grafton, Utah, just south of Zion National Park, might be best recognized today from its appearance in the classic film “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”

The pioneer town was first established in 1859, along the Virgin River, about a mile downstream from its current location. A flash flood in 1862 destroyed the original town and forced its residents to relocate.

By 1906, almost all of Grafton’s townsfolk had moved downstream to Hurricane. The last resident left in 1945.

Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2010, Grafton remains well-preserved thanks to the Grafton Heritage Partnership Project.

Located near the banks of the Virgin River, the town site has some of the best views of the western part of Zion. You will also find fruit orchards, meadows, historic buildings and a cemetery.

Grafton sits at 3,678 feet in elevation, so expect it to be about 5 to 15 degrees cooler than Las Vegas.

Before you set out to explore, pick up a self-guided tour booklet near the fence in front of the 1886 schoolhouse/church. For more information, check out graftonheritage.org.

■ What to pack: There are no services here, so bring food and water.

How long to stay: Exploring the entire town site will take a half-hour to a couple of hours.

Film history: That iconic scene in 1969’s “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” — Butch (Paul Newman) trying to impress Sundance’s gal, Etta (Katherine Ross), with his bicycle-riding skills — isn’t Grafton’s only big-screen closeup. Look for it in the 1929 Western “In Old Arizona,” which won Warner Baxter an Oscar for his portrayal of the Cisco Kid.

Grafton graves: The pioneers had it tough here. In 1866 alone the residents of this hamlet buried at least 11 people in the local graveyard: six killed by diphtheria, two teenage girls who died in a freak accident, and three victims of Navajo raiders. The cemetery, located about a third of a mile from the town site, is thought to hold more than 74 graves, many unmarked, their occupants buried from 1862 to 1924.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Take a scenic ride on Arizona’s Verde Canyon Railroad

The four-hour, 20-mile railway journey begins in Clarkdale and travels to the ghost town of Perkinsville, snaking along the high banks above the Verde River.

Utah’s Great Gallery displays spectacular rock art

The Great Gallery in Utah’s Horseshoe Canyon, about 330 miles northeast of Las Vegas, is one of the most significant rock art sites in the Southwest.

Waves of adventure await in Long Beach

Tour the famed Queen Mary or explore the Aquarium of the Pacific in the sunny Southern California port city.

Explore a hidden wonderland on Glen Canyon raft trip

One of the most enchanting stretches of the Colorado River begins at the base of the Glen Canyon Dam and winds about 15 miles downstream to Lee’s Ferry.

Big Bear Lake offers escape from blistering desert summers

The Southern California resort town is a haven for off-road adventurers, hikers and mountain bikers as well as a prime destination for anglers, boaters and water skiers.